Illinois reps explain their impeachment votes

By Kevin Beese Staff Reporter

Congressmen mill about the House floor Dec. 18, during the U.S. House of Representatives impeachment vote on President Donald Trump. Illinois representatives all voted along party lines. (Screenshot from United State House of Representatives Facebook video)

Illinois congressional representatives voted along party lines when it came time to vote Dec. 18 on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Democratic representatives from Illinois voted for impeachment, while Republicans for the Prairie State voted against it. The two articles of impeachment charge the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The articles passed 230-197-1 and 229-198-1, respectively.

Comments of area members of the U.S. House of Representatives regarding their votes include:


Bobby Rush (1st District) of Chicago — “Unfortunately, this president has left us with no choice. Impeachment is the only recourse we have in the face of such an egregious and illegal abuse of power. This president has abused his oath, and his office, by soliciting assistance from a foreign government in a clear attempt to undermine the results of the 2020 election. Furthermore, he has willfully obstructed Congress’ constitutionally endowed rights and obligations, and for that, he must be impeached.

“The American people cannot have confidence in our constitutionally established democratic process if the president — the sworn protector of that very process — is actively working to undermine it. Simply put, the president is a clear and present threat to our democracy and our national security, and although I take no pleasure in his impeachment, it is what is required both morally and by the Constitution, which I have sworn an oath to defend and protect.

“I am fully persuaded that this president does not respect the law of the land, but instead seems to love the ‘law of the jungle’ — the law of the brute and the bully. That ends today. No one, including this president, is above the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Robin Kelly (2nd District) of Matteson — A member of the National Security Oversight Subcommittee, Kelly delivered this speech on the House Floor during the debate:

“Madam Speaker, today is a solemn day in America. A day that none of us hoped for when we came to Congress. But the events of today are something that each of us swore that we were prepared to execute in defense of the Constitution of the United States — against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

“This is the oath that binds the men and women of the 116th Congress, as our democracy implores we defend her. A clear and present threat to American democracy is what brings us here.

“The architect, a president who asked that a foreign nation interfere in our election. This was our Founding Fathers’ greatest fear.

“I cast this solemn vote for the many individuals in my district who entrusted me to be their voice in Congress. They entrusted me to uphold our Constitution for them.

“I vote ‘yes’ for Sarah in Chicago, Doug in Kankakee, Diane in Flossmoor. ‘Yes’ for Kathy in Momence, Kathryn in Crete and Jimmie in Park Forest.

“The facts are simple. The path forward is clear: impeachment is not an option, it’s an obligation because no one is above the law.”

Daniel Lipinski (3rd District) of Western Springs — “I have been greatly concerned with President Trump’s actions in withholding funds that had been approved for the defense of Ukraine. That is why I supported an impeachment inquiry into this matter … It is also important to consider any impeachment process in light of history and the future of our nation. Congress’ power to impeach a president and remove him or her from office is one of the most consequential powers that the Legislative Branch was given in the Constitution and should never be considered lightly.”

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (4th District) of Chicago: “(The) vote to impeach the president is sobering. While I have deep disagreements with President Trump on immigration, health care, climate change and other policy areas, I did not come to Washington to impeach the president. I came to represent the voices of my constituents and I take my duty very seriously.

“The facts tell a disturbing yet highly consistent story. The president’s misdeeds have been verified by an immense body of evidence and the testimony of dozens of witnesses — including civil servants and constitutional scholars of the highest caliber. President Trump abused his power to bribe another country for his own personal and political gain. This is wrong.

“I voted to impeach President Trump to do right by my constituents, the future of our democracy, and to uphold the rule of law and my oath to defend the Constitution. The facts are clear. The president obstructed congressional investigations by instructing his accomplices to ignore compulsory calls to testify before Congress. No matter how he tries to spin it, President Trump violated the Constitution and must be held accountable. Regrettably, House and Senate Republicans are going along with the president’s lies and attempts to cover up his actions.

“No one is above the law, not even the president.

“Donald Trump indisputably violated the Constitution and is, without a shadow of a doubt, no longer fit to discharge the duties of the president of the United States of America.”

Mike Quigley (5th District) of Chicago – “I cast my vote in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump because if Congress did not hold this president accountable for his actions, we would have forsaken our duty, betrayed our oaths of office, and sent the message that some people can avoid justice.

“No one is above the law.

“By abusing his power, extorting an ally to meddle in our elections, endangering our democratic process, placing our national security at risk, lying to the American people about his schemes, and obstructing legitimate congressional investigations, the president has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors.

“Nobody comes to Congress to impeach a president. When I came to Congress, I pledged an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Just because the president of the United States has chosen not to honor his oath, does not mean that I will abandon mine … I cast my vote to protect the future of our democracy.”

Sean Casten (6th District) of Downers Grove — See sidebar.

Danny Davis (7th District) of Chicago — “I believe the facts and findings concerning President Donald J. Trump’s willful and dangerous violations of the United States Constitution, his actions undermining of safety and security of our nation and his actions undercutting our democracy based on reports of the relevant congressional committees are largely uncontested and that the procedures of the relevant congressional committees which have investigated the president’s actions to have been eminently fair and transparent. I believe the facts and findings as detailed by those committees lay out a clear and convincing case which demands the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.”

Raja Krishnamoorthi (8th District) of Schaumburg — “This is a sad day for America. None of us came to Congress to impeach a president and it is unfortunate that we must take this course of action. But the American people deserve to hold their government accountable and as their representatives, it is our duty to serve their interests.”

Jan Schakowsky (9th District) of Evanston — A senior chief deputy whip, Schakowsky said, “I’ve taken an oath 11 times now ‘to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ The biggest threat to our Constitution is sitting in the oval office. This president has violated the law at every turn, stealing power from the judiciary and legislative branches and using it to advance his own personal interests. He has jeopardized our national security, abused and tarnished the Office of the President, and proved that he is incapable of putting our nation, its people, and our democracy first.

“After months of investigations and committee hearings, thousands of pages of reports, and countless hours of witness testimony, it became clear that our oath and the Constitution provided only one path forward. A path that led us here, to the introduction and passage of Articles of Impeachment against President Donald J. Trump.

“It was never my goal or wish to impeach a president. But this summer, my son Ian reminded me of my oath and said, ‘Mom, this is not about politics. It is not about party. This has nothing to do with the final outcome — it’s about doing the right thing, even if others don’t.’ I did the right thing. I put our nation, its people, and our democracy first, as I swore to do. I voted ‘yes’ on both Articles of Impeachment against this president.”

Brad Schneider (10th Disrict) of Deerfield — Speaking on the House floor, Schneider said, “The president abused the power of his office by corruptly putting his own political interests ahead of our nation’s security. He blocked congressionally authorized military aid to coerce Ukraine to launch a phony investigation into his political rival. In the months since, he has waged a campaign of absolute obstruction against Congress’ constitutional authority, ordering all federal officials to defy subpoenas and refusing to produce even a single document.

“I take no joy in today’s impeachment vote or that the president’s actions demand this response.

“This is a sad moment for our nation. Only twice before has the House voted to impeach a president, and never before on accusations of compromising national security. I hope in the Senate both prosecution and defense can call and cross-examine witnesses, and the senators will hear the evidence and make their decisions without prejudice or prejudgment.

“This is a solemn moment, but our system of checks and balances was designed for times like these. I have faith that our Constitution will guide us on the path ahead.”

Bill Foster (11th District) of Naperville — “I voted in favor of both Articles of Impeachment because the facts clearly show that President Trump abused the power of his office for his personal political gain and willfully ignored subpoenas lawfully issued by Congress pursuant to the exercise of its constitutional power of impeachment.

“With this vote, the House has placed itself on the right side of history. Under our democratic system of constitutional checks and balances, no person — not even the president — is above the law or immune from facing consequences for their actions. We voted to hold the president accountable to the American people.”

Lauren Underwood (14th District) of Naperville — “Our country’s founders created impeachment so that no president could place themselves above the law, a crucial constitutional check-of-power that ensures our country’s security and values are protected against corruption and foreign influence in our elections. As I’ve weighed this solemn decision I’ve listened to our community, examined important testimony and evidence, and studied the drafted articles.

“The president has demonstrated a pattern of corrupt behavior, and abused his power for his own personal political gain when he pressured foreign leaders to conduct investigations against political rivals, jeopardizing our country’s national security and the integrity of our elections. The testimony and evidence put forth led me to a clear conclusion.”

Cheri Bustos (17th District) of Moline — “With both a profound sense of constitutional duty and deep respect for the office of the presidency, I solemnly cast my vote in favor of both articles of impeachment for Senate consideration. No one is above the law, and there is beyond ample evidence that President Trump abused the tremendous powers of the presidency to jeopardize our national security and that of our allies.

As I cast this difficult vote — and as I have demonstrated since first being elected — my priorities are with the people of the Illinois 17th Congressional District. I remain committed to working with anyone from any party to continue to deliver for our region, state and country. In the last weeks, we have passed historic victories for Illinoisans, including legislation that will lower the costs of prescription drugs for struggling families and seniors. We have worked with both parties to pass year-end spending bills that will help our veterans and service members, improve rural health care and strengthen our workforce. Finally, we have worked together with Republicans and the administration to secure a new trade framework between the United States, Mexico and Canada, which provides stronger labor enforcement for our workers and renewed certainty for our family farmers.”



Mike Bost (12th District) of Murphysboro — “Future generations will look back on (Dec. 18) as the day Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and the Washington Democrats put partisan politics above the best interests of the country. For them, the ends would justify the means if it meant overturning the results of the 2016 election. This is a dark day for our country, but I am hopeful the Senate will move quickly and acquit the president so we can get back to doing the people’s business.”

Rodney Davis (13th District) of Taylorville — “This is the second most consequential vote we have to take in this House. The first is to send our men and women in uniform to war and the second is to vote to impeach and remove a president of the United States. This is the first partisan impeachment in our nation’s history and I am fearful it sets a dangerous precedent. I will not vote to remove a duly elected president of either party or bar them from running without a legitimate independent investigation and proof of a crime, neither of which exist in this case. I am hopeful we can put this kind of partisanship aside and move forward on bipartisan legislation to improve the lives of hardworking American citizens.”

John Shimkus (15th District) of Collinsville — Shimkus was not present for the vote, but had the following statement entered into the Dec. 18 Congressional Record: “Long before today’s votes were scheduled, my wife, Karen, and I made arrangements to visit our son Joshua in Tanzania where he’s serving in the Peace Corps. At the White House last week, I informed President Trump that I would not be present for these votes, and he was supportive of me visiting my son. I told him I did not support his impeachment, and I have requested that this statement of my reasons for opposing both articles of impeachment be entered into the Congressional Record.
“I’ve been to Ukraine twice this year. I was an observer of the second round of the presidential election on April 21. I returned with a bipartisan congressional delegation from Sept. 28-Oct. 5, right in the middle of this supposed controversy.
“We met with many people. We met with our embassy leadership. We also met with the Ukrainian foreign minister and minister of defense. We had a chance to visit our soldiers who are helping in the training mission of the Ukrainian military. During that time, we met with the military leadership of both countries. Finally, we met with members of the Ukrainian parliament. During all these meetings, no one mentioned a quid pro quo.
“What I also know is this: The Trump administration provided the long-overdue aid to Ukraine, including lethal Javelin anti-tank missiles, that had been authorized by Congress but withheld by the previous administration in their misguided efforts to appease Russia. Other assistance to Ukraine was temporarily delayed this year following the election of a new president — a political outsider we knew little about.
“The new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, also addressed this issue several times. He has rejected the accusation that any quid pro quo or any pressure was applied to him or the Ukrainian government. The aid was also released prior to the Ukrainian government being pulled into this political controversy. These observations convince me that the first article of impeachment, ‘abuse of power,’ is not credible.
“My experience in Congress, including during the impeachment of President (Bill) Clinton, likewise convinces me the second article of impeachment, ‘obstruction of congress,’ is not a credible charge.
“Constant tension exists between our legislative and executive branches of government. Every president I’ve served with has said at one time or another he is empowered to do this or to withhold that. When Congress disagrees, we have, at times, taken those questions of executive authority or privilege to our third branch of government: the courts. But the Democrats haven’t even given President Trump an opportunity to defend his executive privilege through the courts, and they’re demanding that he just give up his constitutional powers under Article II.
“I’m disappointed to miss these votes but not embarrassed. I’m embarrassed that they are even happening.”

Adam Kinzinger (16th Disrict) of Channahon“This is a sad, divisive day for our nation and this institution. The foundation for the articles of impeachment is weak and as such, I voted against House Resolution 755 on the House floor.

“Democracy is the foundation for our freedom, and it is our democratic process that has continued to be a beacon of light around the world. We in this institution have a responsibility to the people we serve: to uphold the Constitution and protect this democracy. Impeachment is a serious matter and deserves serious consideration. But this process has usurped the will of the American people and denied them the transparency they deserve and the answers they expected from Congress.

“Ignoring the right of due process, as my colleagues have done, ignores past precedent for impeachment in favor of a highly partisan, politically driven process. It did not help inform the public and it delayed our legislative work on behalf of the people we serve.

“I hope my colleagues across the aisle learn from this moment, recognize the shortfalls in taking these procedural shortcuts, and return in the new year ready to legislate. We are better when we work together, finding common ground for the good of the country. The American people deserve better than this broken process, and I for one look forward to getting back to work and restoring faith in our government.”

Darin LaHood (18th District) of Peoria — “As I have said throughout this process, impeachment is the nuclear option, reserved for the most treasonous and criminal activity. In this case, the House Democrats have failed to present evidence to support this high threshold for impeachment. Moreover, the entire process has lacked due process, transparency, and fairness. Impeachment is the most consequential act Congress can take, and it is disappointing the Democrats are moving ahead with the fastest and most partisan impeachment process in our country’s history.

“It’s no secret that since President Trump was elected, Democrats have fixated on undoing the results of the 2016 election through impeachment. Our democracy is premised on the power being with the people, not partisan members of Congress. In less than nine months, early voting starts for the 2020 presidential election, and the American voters will have an immediate opportunity to render judgment. I … hope we can finally move on and work on issues voters sent us to Washington to fix